Workplace Conflict

7 Steps for Handling Workplace Conflict

All businesses, big and small, have their fair share of conflicts. Tension in the workplace can result in reduced productivity, wasted energy and time, and unnecessary negative emotions. If tension is not addressed swiftly, full blown conflicts can erupt, leaving the office in shambles. Since most people dislike conflict, we have the tendency to avoid it or pretend that it doesn't exist. Conflict, however, is quite real and to be diffused before it becomes problematic it must be diffused. Here are 7 steps to help you better handle conflicts in your small business:
  1. Face it square on. When faced with a conflict, look it directly in the eyes, so to speak. Acknowledge there is a problem, and if it is between two separate parties at your workplace, help them to address the problem directly as well. Explain to both parties that bad feelings and tension can be handled in appropriate ways and can actually be turned around to become positive and productive growing experiences.
  2. Get the whole story. To do this, you should speak with both party separately, in private, so that they can freely explain themselves. This allows you to broaden your view of the situation and better understand what is causing the conflict. Sift through emotion to the facts and make sure you understand the events that led to the forming of tension between your employees.
  3. Meet together with all involved. When you bring both parties together mediate so that each side is allowed to present their side of the story uninterrupted. Help each person to see the other person's point of view. In talking it out normally facts that the other party was unaware of will come to light adding further insight and discernment.
  4. Find common ground. Common ground is the saving grace of most conflicts. Find a mutual concern for your parties, and help them form a foundation that they can rebuild a relationship on.
  5. Arrange a compromise. To resolve conflicts each party must be willing to give a little. This is typically the most difficult step, since both parties may have a pre-decided idea of how the conflict should be resolved.
  6. Combat negative feelings. While the conflict may get ironed out, if the bad feelings remain so will the tension, eventually resulting in another conflict. Work through the feelings and thoughts that led to the initial conflict and attack how these emotions can be dealt with before another conflict arises.
  7. Be positive. Make sure you as the business owner are active and positive when it comes to resolving conflicts. By having a plan in place such as this one, your employees will be more adept at understanding how to resolve conflicts, and will react quicker when workplace tension rears its ugly head.

Why not walk your employees through this plan before any conflicts arise to better equip them for future problems? Plan to spend 10 minutes at your next company meeting reviewing and discussing this plan.